Fast responses to complaints. Knowledge about the company’s products. Putting the customer first.
The modern consumer’s service expectations are predictable and completely reasonable, but when the baseline for customer service is low, so why do so many businesses fall flat? Most companies do so little to meet the standard, those who go above and beyond make an exceptional impression, earning lifelong loyalty from their clients and a stellar reputation to help grow their customer base.
David Inns, CEO of GreatCall Inc suggests that one of the biggest hangups in this area is that “business leaders [treat] customer service as a necessary evil” rather than a worthwhile investment that distinguishes the good from the great. Most companies cut corners in their service departments, with large businesses outsourcing their help lines to other countries and small businesses skimping on their employee training. Potential relationships with customers are more important than moving one or two products off the shelf, but plenty of employees are so focused on making a sale, they fail to engage with shoppers in a personable manner; moreover, many of them are not overly familiar with their products and unable to answer questions about them, reflecting poorly on their companies and resulting in, if not a bad experience, an unmemorable one.
The power of the customer has only increased in recent years, and more so than ever, word of mouth (or text of tweet) goes a very long way. The inability or reluctance to address customer complaints is not flying, with consumers expecting to be able to contact and receive responses through multiple avenues of communication, and customer service departments need to respond to critiques instead of pushing them under the rug. We already have a brief article on the specific subject of social media and customer service, so for now we’ll switch to some lighter fare.
This is not meant to be a laundry list of the way companies fail to serve their customers; rather it can be one part cautionary tale, one part how-to. Some of the best customer service stories are the sweetest, such as hotel staff returning a lost stuffed toy to a little boy accompanied by a photographic record of the plush giraffe’s escapades, ensuring its young owner the toy had merely enjoyed an extended vacation. Not only has this establishment secured a life-long customer, they’ve also created a great narrative likely to be shared time and again.
A similarly syrupy tale speaks to the worth of responding to feedback from even the humblest, or smallest, customer. When a three year old wrote to Sainsbury suggesting that their tiger bread more closely resembled a giraffe, they agreed, and changed the item’s name to reflect this. The exchange between the little girl and the company has gone viral on multiple platforms, probably because it’s so damn cute, or perhaps due to some secret, newly emerged giraffe factor inextricably tied to stories of good service. Either way, it’s great publicity for a company that took an extra moment where so many others would not.
To go the extra mile, check out BigSpeak’s list of Customer Loyalty speakers who can help you transition from idea to practice and bring your whole team together as one efficient, helpful unit.